Sunday, June 29, 2008

Great Day Ahead!

This was my fortune the morning of June 28, 2008, my 34th birthday, and it turned out to be a really great day! My fun has actually spanned several days...

On the 26th the kids and I went to lunch with Grandma Cole at my new favorite "fast food" joint, Noodles & Company (love the Japanese Pan Noodles). We love to hang out with Grandma! We got an ice cream cone before dropping her off at home and Coleman said, "Do you think we can get ice cream for MY birthday too?" I'm sure that can be arranged.

Friday night Ryan took me on a great date--he's really good at planning fun and creative things, and he put together a very complex and fun Choose Your Own Adventure date book. Both of us used to love the Choose Your Own Adventure Books (I can even remember writing my own in some creative writing class?!?) so this was a fun trip down memory lane.

Our first stop was for dessert--we went to Flour Girls & Dough Boys for an ice cream sandwich. I got the shortbread chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream. Before Ryan took the picture I had already eaten half of the ice cream (it was huge!) because it was dripping all over the place and it was SOOO yummy. I love shortbread!

Ryan got a Snickerdoodle sandwich. We felt a little bit like we were shooting a Sonic commercial taking pictures of each other in the car, but it had to be documented!

The next stop was shopping for a new outfit. Ryan said "you have to get new clothes for your birthday, after all, I always do." Ryan doesn't love getting new clothes, but I do, so this was a fun thing for him to plan! I found a cute new outfit and tried on some shoes to go with it. These pink ones were cute...

...these blue ones were too, but neither pair was very comfortable or practical. As much as I love shoes and shopping, I still won't buy a pair of shoes unless it will go with most things that I own.

Our next stop was an activity and I chose to see "Get Smart" with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. We've been letting the kids watch the old tv reruns of this show that Ryan watched as a kid, and we've been dying to see the movie. I must say, it was hilarious and we laughed the whole way through (beware of some bum footage!). Good flick.

Our last stop for the evening was Pei Wei for my favorite Honey Seared Chicken with brown rice. I could eat it over and over and over again.

The next morning I got to sleep in and Ryan made my favorite orange julius and cinnamon toast for breakfast. Liv made a sweet card for me....

...and my family made me feel great. I loved spending my birthday with them.

We went to Lowe's and picked up some Russian Sage plants for along the back fence. We just got some great landscaping rocks from our friends, so we are slowly but surely getting the backyard to look pretty.

Then we went to Costco to pick up my "birthday cake"--their famous Key Lime Pie. It's just around during the summer months, so I'm glad to have a summer birthday. This stuff is so good!

Later in the afternoon we went to my mom's house for a BBQ and some pool fun with my family. We had a great time and lots of good food!

Combine all of that with lots of cards and calls and birthday wishes from friends and family, it was a great day, indeed!

Some of Coleman's Quips lately:

"There sure are a lot of instruction workers" (referring to all of the construction workers in our neighborhood).

"I know why they are called landscaping rocks, it's cause they're rocks and they are trying to escape the land!"

"Do you want to watch the Merit Badge Trap?" (the movie "Parent Trap").

"What does it defeat, and for how long?" (when we picked up some Round-Up at Lowe's).

**Did you read Choose Your Own Adventure books?
**Do you love Noodles & Company, Flour Girls & Dough Boys, Steve Carell, Pei Wei, or Costco Key Lime Pie?
**Shouldn't EVERYONE get clothes for their birthday?
**Do you ever buy shoes for just one outfit?
**Have you ever seen Russian Sage?
**Did you make it to the end of this long, long post, or did I lose you with my fortune cookie?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Organization Tips

I want to be organized. I dream of being organized. I buy lots of totes and crates and boxes to be more organized. When it all comes down to it, I am not, and I have piles of things to go through, boxes that need to be sorted, and many things that just need to be thrown away.

Last week at Enrichment I listened to Marie Ricks speak about becoming more organized. To try to redeem myself from the last gruesome post that probably has some of you hating me or wondering where I've gone wrong in life, and in an effort to remember what I learned, I thought I'd share a few tips. Her website is full of information and suggestions and projects too ( Most of the info below came from her, but some of it is my interpretation.

**We don't have to be 100% better to make a difference. If we can just improve our organization by 10%, we'll have 1.6 hours more per day, almost a full day per week, and at least an extra month per year.

**Every Sunday have family council. Calendar items for the week (on paper). Discuss family problems (if you bring a problem to family council, you must offer a solution). Discuss extended family pressures/obligations. In ever family council parents should say something nice about each kid, and each kid should say something nice about each parent.

**Our goal with our children/spouses should be that they develop Self Initiative.

**Learn what to leave out. A yes to one thing is a no to another (and on the flip side, a no to something, is a yes to another).

**File papers vertically--if it's PILED it's LOST, if it's FILED it's FOUND.

**To save the memory of art projects, take a picture of the child with the project, then have a funeral for the project (child is free to attend or go in room and cry).

**If something is useful and needed, keep it. If it is useful, but not needed, share it. If it is neither useful nor needed, THROW IT OUT!

**Our discontent comes from comparing with others--make sure to always compare DOWN.

**Food Storage: Store what you eat (use), and eat (use) what you store. To build food storage without breaking the bank, buy double of whatever is on your list. Marie says, "If you need one, buy two. If you need two, buy four. If you need four, buy more."

**A great organizational blog to check out: A Place For Everything which is maintained by my newly found cousin Linn (are we 3rd cousins?).

**Do you have any excellent organizational tips?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sweeney Todd

In April 2006 Ryan and I got to go on a great trip to New York City, sort of for work, mostly for fun. Although we had already been blessed with tickets to "Wicked" from Ryan's company (which was so wonderful, by the way!) we wanted to take advantage of the booth that sells half price Broadway show tickets the day of the event. While Ry was working, I went and stood in the long line. I chatted with a few people, heard some great reviews for Sweeney Todd, but I was totally unfamiliar with the story. A cute, little old lady in front of me said that the only tickets she wanted were for Sweeney Todd, if they were sold out, she didn't want to see anything. In my mind, I pictured a sweet, light, romantic Broadway musical, something akin to "The Music Man." I was thrilled when they had a couple of seats available and bought the tickets.

When I called Ryan to tell him of my purchase (cash-only, non-refundable), he was a little taken aback. You see, he KNEW the story and was surprised that I'd picked that musical, out of all that were playing in New York. I had the sweet little old lady on my side, though, right?

Imagine my surprise when we got the playbill and there was the image shown above with the sub-heading "Demon Barber of Fleet Street". It took me a few uncomfortable minutes to realize that this musical was about an unjustly accused and imprisoned barber who decides to get revenge when he is released many years later. His shop is above Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie Shop and he ends up killing most of his clients (hoping to get revenge against the crooked judge who put him in prison in the first place so the judge could hook up with the barber's wife) in a gruesome, barbaric manner. Mrs. Lovett is his partner in crime, and a solution to "How do we get rid of the body?" becomes apparent in their song "A Little Priest". They decide to use the flesh of the victims in the meat pies. Just in case you aren't keeping up, that would be "a little priest" in the meat pies.

The musical score was brilliant (by Stephen Sondheim) and although the whole idea of the story was very against my general beliefs (murder!), it was performed wonderfully. The way they utilized the cast--as the orchestra and crew in addition to their parts--was very inventive. Patti LuPone played the tuba. You can't get any better than that. I really want to believe that if I knew what I was in for, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more. As it was though, I sat through most of the first half white-knuckled and horrified that I was watching a Broadway show about so many murders and then cannibalism--in meat pies no less! I thought I was in for some "Marian Librarian" and I got Nightmare on Fleet Street.

Fast forward a few months, when my mom told me that she would be singing (with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd. The director took a little grief for choosing it, but it was a lovely song after all. I had to chuckle at that.

A few months later, we heard that Tim Burton was making it into a movie--starring Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd and Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. We don't make it a practice to watch movies that are rated R (no judgments on people who DO watch them) but we made an exception for this one... justification at it's finest.
We held off for several months (after all, we can't risk anyone seeing us going into an R-rated movie, much better to get it from Redbox, watch it at home, then blog about it for the whole world to see) but finally succumbed a few days ago. I have to say, it was extremely well done. Both Depp and Carter have amazing voices, and Tim Burton's quirkiness combined with the acting skills of the stars made it a very enjoyable show.

Not to say there wasn't a fair amount of blood... okay, an INSANE amount of blood. Every time someone sat in the barber's chair, I closed my eyes and waited for Ryan to tell me it was clear because within seconds, Sweeney Todd goes for the jugular with his beautifully carved silver razor and ridiculous quantities of very fake looking blood spurt out. The music though--it was just incredible. The special features showed that Helena Bonham Carter didn't sing at all before training for this role, and Johnny Depp didn't sing for Tim Burton or Stephen Sondheim before he was given the lead role, but they both blew me away.

Icing on the cake: the next day for lunch, Ryan went to our neighborhood cafe and picked up a couple of... meat pies. I told him I couldn't stomach anything with red meat... and the chicken pies were actually quite delicious.

**Did you know the story of Sweeney Todd?
**Did my post make you want to watch it? Which version (is Broadway more respectable than the movie?)?
**Is your mouth watering for a juicy meat pie?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lite Brite and a Budding Photographer

Olivia got a Lite Brite for her birthday. She has loved it. She loves it so much that she hi-jacked my camera to capture her love affair with her Lite Brite.

Best photo of the lot.
Isn't she a little young to know about and try to DO a sultry look?
"Come on, I know this one will be better...."
"Okay, I'm done now, how about you?"

**Did you play with Lite Brite when you were little? (I did and I loved it too!)?
**Olivia shows promise as a photographer, no?

Orienteering 101

Orienteering is the "thinking person's sport" (Orienteering Utah!) or the sport of navigation with map and compass (US Orienteering Federation). For our family, it meant a fun activity last Saturday at Kaysville Mountain Park. We did the novice level (which means the very easiest course) and we took 2nd place!!! If you look closely at the results, you'll notice we took second out of three, but the third didn't ever finish, so you could also say we were last in our group. We got a teeny tiny bit lost during the course and missed one of the waypoints... which of course got us way off track for the next waypoint. Coleman and I decided we'd had enough (allergies, the heat, the hopelessness of it all) and headed back to the check-in tent. Ryan and Olivia were troopers though and persevered. Within minutes they figured out our error and got back on track. We learned from this activity that if our family were stranded somewhere without supplies, Ryan and Liv would survive and live to tell the tale, but Coleman and I would be left behind, buried in a shallow grave or left to dry out in the sun.
**Doesn't Coleman look utterly pooped?
**Have you ever been (or heard of???) orienteering?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dad's Day

We are blessed with lots of great Dads in our lives, especially OUR DAD!

"My dad is my hero because he pervides for our family, and makes me smile and loves to tickel me, and because he has a testamone of the gosple."--Olivia

"I love you. Happy Father's Day! Good luck with the frozen lemonade."--Coleman

"Ryan is a great Dad. He loves to play with Olivia and Coleman and makes them feel so loved and happy. He gives great foot rubs and he makes sure that all of us are taken care of, all of the time. We are so lucky to have Ryan as the Dad in our family!"--Lisa

Ryan's Frozen Lemonade

2 cups vanilla ice cream
1/2 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 cup ice
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen strawberries

Put all ingredients in the blender and mix it on up on high until it's smooth. It's tasty with a dollop of whipped cream or cool whip on top.

Happy Father's Day to Ryan, Ryan's Dad (Bruce) in Connecticut, my dad (Stan) in California, and all of our wonderful grandpas. We love you!

The Ultimate Payback

When I was called as Primary President 4 1/2 years ago, this sweet boy Connor was a Sunbeam. Connor is autistic. He struggled with Primary during the whole three years that I served there. He hated staying, he wouldn't speak, and he was often accompanied by his mom who patiently sat with him and tried to help him enjoy Primary. Over time, he started participating more and even became willing to give talks and prayers in Primary. Connor and I slowly built a friendship and by the time I was released, we had a good thing going. I hoped more than anything that Connor knew he was loved and wanted in our Primary.

Today I had the opportunity to substitute in Connor's class. As we were opening the class, the kids were sharing exciting things that had happened during the week. Connor patiently waited for his turn, and when I called on him, he said, "I remember you from when I was in Junior Primary." I told him that I remembered him too and that I missed seeing all the kids every week. The other kids wanted to know if Relief Society was boring (sometimes!) and told me they remembered me, but they couldn't ever remember my name. Then Connor said, "Sometimes I just really miss you a lot in Primary."

I know that most times our service in our communities or schools or churches goes unnoticed and without thanks. Today, this was all the thanks I needed for the years of challenges and struggles and wondering if I was doing an okay job in my responsibility.

Resurrection of a Cell Phone

So the other day after mowing the lawn I quickly took off my pants and threw them in the washer. Thinking highly of my own efficiency, the next morning I went to put the clothes in the dryer and was dismayed to find that my cell phone was in the pocket of my jeans. Aargh!

I've had this phone for years--I haven't loved it--but it's worked and we are waiting until some fancy new Blackberry phone comes out in July to change plans and get new phones (the fancy one would be for Ryan, whatever is free is what I get!).

It was completely water-logged and of course didn't turn on. My friend Jill told me to stick it in rice because it would absorb all the water, so Ryan took it apart and we stuck all the components in rice. The first time we tested it there was still a bunch of moisture on the display, but it turned on! It wouldn't hold a charge, and it kept shutting off every few minutes. Ry took it apart again and we left it in for another day, then put it back together and charged it up. Aside from the dark spots on the display, it's worked just fine today. I keep expecting to hear "glub glub, gurgle, gurgle" when I'm talking on it, but so far, it's been as clear as it used to be (which granted, isn't top quality, but it serves it's purpose).

Let's hope it lasts until that new phone is released!

**Have you ever washed a cell phone?
**Did you already know the rice trick?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rest In Peace, Little Faker

Two days ago Olivia came in from the backyard to tell me that she found a dead bird. I walked out to see it so we could get rid of it, and it fluttered it's wings and flew away. It looked like it might have had an injury, but I couldn't really tell. I'm not an animal person, but I was filled with compassion for this sweet little creature. I had grand visions of nursing it back to health in a box with soft cloth and fresh worms for all of its meals. But it was gone, so I didn't think about it much more. I wondered how we would make a splint for a bird?

Yesterday I was mowing the lawn. This is a necessary activity (evil) that tends to make me grumpy and say swear words under my breath (or out loud, because the roar of the beast that is our lawn mower drowns it all out anyway). I discovered the poor birdie again, and thought that it had succumbed to it's injury and finally died. I got really close to it, and it fluttered it's wings again, and hopped away, but stayed in the general vicinity. My instinct to nurture it and love it was gone, replaced by an annoyance that it was in my path and was making it difficult to keep my lines straight. By the time I had finished mowing, the bird was nowhere to be seen.

Today I looked out the window and saw it again, and it looked still. I told Olivia to go and check it out ("But DON'T touch it, animals carry disease!"). She came back and reported, "I found the faker out there." "The faker?" I asked. "Yeah, you know, that bird that keeps faking that it's dead, then it flies away," she explained. I couldn't help but laugh at it's new name: "The Faker".

She returned a few minutes later to tell me that she thought it wasn't faking anymore, there were flies buzzing all around it. Our little birdie bit the dust. Is it wrong that I had to stifle another laugh? If only we had a vulture or two to circle the vicinity. I went outside with a shovel and we had a brief moment of silence, then we carried it to the garbage can, and put it to rest.

I must say, I was relieved that it wasn't suffering anymore, and even more relieved that I didn't feel the pressure to make it well. And glad that when I mow the lawn next week I won't have to dodge that little faker and I can focus on my swear words and lines in the lawn.

Rest in peace, little friend.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Olivia's Big Book Birthday Bash

This year for Olivia's birthday, we decided to do a book party mostly because I hope our kids will love reading and we want to make sure to do a lot of it this summer. A book-themed party seemed like a great way to kick off the summer. We got some great ideas from The invitations looked like little books written by Olivia and told the story of her Big Birthday Book Bash. We told the kids to come dressed up as their favorite book character and to be ready to tell us about their favorite book. It was so fun to hear how excited the kids were about books and reading.Olivia dressed up as Kitt Kittredge, of American Girl fame. She got the book and doll for her birthday (she told the group that it was her "first American Girl" and I quickly reminded her that it would likely be her "only American Girl" because they cost an arm and a leg!).

When the kids arrived, the librarian (me!) gave them a nametag with their character's name and they went and made a foam bookmark. We had all sorts of characters... Coleman was a Jedi Knight (there are Star Wars books out there somewhere, right?), Liv as Kitt, her friend Mercedes was Junie B. Jones, and Jane was Gwen (a star soccer player).
My mom came to help and dressed up like Laura Ingalls Wilder and as you can see we had Robin Hood, Harry Potter, Camilla (from a great book, A Bad Case of The Stripes), David (in the stripes, from No, David!) a couple of Hannah Montana's, a detective named Joe, and Alice in Wonderland. We also had The Man in the Yellow Hat (Curious George), Judy Moody, the Paper Bag Princess, Alice the Fairy, Pippi Longstocking, Peter (from the Narnia books), and the butterfly from A Very Hungry Caterpillar. The kids came up with great costumes and told about their books with a lot of detail. It was refreshing to see how much these little ones love to read and be read to.
After the kids told us about their books, we played a rousing game of "Red Rover" which was hilarious.
My extremely talented friend Sara made an amazing cake when her husband graduated from law school a few weeks ago (see a picture here) and I wanted desperately to copy it for Liv's book party. Sara was kind enough to write a detailed tutorial on how to do it and included a great frosting recipe and lots of insider cake decorating tips. As you can see, my cake is nowhere near the caliber of Sara's, but for a bunch of 7 year olds, it was a hit. It was my first time using cake boards and support straws and meringue powder in the frosting, so I consider it progress. I didn't start the frosting process until 2 hours before the party, which was a mistake. Five batches of frosting later and 20 minutes before the party was supposed to start, this is what we had, in addition to frosting and dirty dishes ALL over the kitchen. Next time around, I'll frost the cake the night before so I can have plenty of time to fix the details and make it as spectacular as I know I could have with more time and a few more tools.
We sent each of the kids home with a book (thanks to a great deal at the end of the year Scholastic book fair) and some "Birthday Bookworms". I was happy to avoid the huge amounts of candy and cheap trinkets that I usually put in the goodie bags. Hopefully all of the kids will enjoy their books this summer. We had such a fun party--Olivia is blessed with great friends that helped her celebrate her birthday in a big way. I was blessed with my mom, my sister Stephanie, and my friend Lisa who helped run the show. Thanks ladies!
**What book character would you like to be?
**Have you played "Red Rover" lately?
**Any good book recommendations (for me or the kids)?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ode To The Red Swing Set

An ode to the red swing set
That we've had for at least 3 years, I'll bet

Twas a gift from our friends the Whites
And took our kids to very fun heights

Coleman loved the "Tater Tot"
That's the teeter-totter, believe it or not

Under Dogs were Olivia's favorite thing
What fun and laughter that did bring

Alas, our kiddoes have outgrown this gig
For their little bodies have gotten too big

That red swing set has served us well,
But when it tipped over it hurt like...... a devil.

The red swing set has found a new home
And our back yard is now bare as a bone.

We'll miss you swing set, it is true,
We'll remember you always through and through.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Determination--Pass It On

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Sweet Liv!

Seven years ago Sweet Liv was born and I can't imagine life without her. Just yesterday she asked how babies come out, and after I explained all the gory details, she said she wasn't sure she wanted any babies, ever. I assured her that it was all worth it, and it is. As a baby she was calm and easy going (except when we buckled her into her car seat, which made her scream and turn bright red, for the first several weeks of her life) and she is still pretty laid back and goes with the flow. She has developed so many great qualities--she's thoughtful and kind and generous and bright and funny and spiritual and lots of fun to be around and she has a strong moral compass inside.

I love you, sweet Liv! Happy Birthday!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Proof of Coolness

I've had a bit of a blogging break... mostly because this last week and a half have been crazy busy (when isn't life like that?) and partly because I haven't felt too inspired to share the craziness that is my life, but I have decided that if nothing else, our blog is a good spot to record the happenings of our life--even if it is sometimes not too exciting or inspiring or profound.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is play games... especially on Sunday afternoons (which is do-able since we have the earlier church schedule now!). Last week we pulled out the white board (thanks Terri and Bruce!) and taught the kids about Hangman. Olivia may not claim this phrase as her own when she is in her teenage years, but we have it on film: She thinks we are cool.
Coleman is just learning to write, so Liv helped him out when it was his turn. He decided to do a snowman for his man in the noose--and when we got a letter wrong, Olivia told him to put on an eye... so he drew an "I" right in the eye spot. Too cute!

Another day, the kids got creative with their train tracks and did a portrait of me when I'm happy... (funky chin shape there, eh?)

...and when I'm sad. I am sure they didn't do it on purpse, but I love that they used the blue tracks for the sad one. Both are works of art, no?

**What do you like to do on Sunday afternoons?
**Have you ever had a portrait of you made of train tracks (or any other cool thing)?